> October 24, 1998 10:20 AM EDT
> CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A NASA spacecraft designed
>to test 21st century technology began its mission into deep space at 8:08
>a.m. EDT today aboard a Boeing (NYSE: BA) Delta II rocket.
> The mission is the first deep space launch by NASA to have technology,
>rather than science, as its key focus. The term deep space generally refers
>to all space beyond the Earth-moon system or some 240,000 miles altitude.
>In addition to the primary payload, Deep Space 1 (DS1), the Delta II also
>carried a microsatellite designed and built by students at the University
>of Alabama in Huntsville.
> Deep Space 1 will be the first spacecraft to use an ion thruster to
>provide solar electric propulsion for its primary source of thrust. Large
>solar arrays will give a positive electrical charge to atoms of xenon gas
>and accelerate them to a very high speed.
> If Deep Space 1 expends its full load of 180 pounds of propellant, it
>would be able to change its speed by 10,000 miles per hour. That enormous
>change, however, would require thrusting for 20 months. Conventional
>spacecraft accelerate faster, but typically require 10 times more
> Deep Space 1, is also the first mission in NASA's New Millennium Program,
>to test and validate new technologies to be used on 21st century
>spacecraft. Among the technology carried aboard the spacecraft is software
>that tracks celestial bodies that allow Deep Space 1 to make navigation
>decisions without assistance by ground controllers.
> Although much of the testing will be completed during the first eight
>weeks of the mission, Deep Space 1 will attempt an encounter with asteroid
>1992 KD in July 1999, as a final demonstration of its technologies by
>observing a scientifically interesting body.
> "Today's Delta launch provides an excellent beginning to DS1's mission of
>validating important technologies," said Dr. Marc Rayman, Deep Space 1
>chief mission engineer. "We greatly appreciate Boeing's launch service and
>the smooth delivery of our spacecraft to its orbit around the Sun," he
> "The successful flight of this new version of the Delta II, carrying two
>spacecraft, is an important step in NASA's move toward the use of smaller,
>more affordable launch vehicles for its science missions," Dr. Rayman
> "The Deep Space 1 mission continues the tradition of the Delta launch
>vehicle family, which since 1960 has lifted 76 scientific payloads into
>space," said Darryl Van Dorn, Boeing director of NASA and Commercial
>programs. "This mission is particularly significant because it will be the
>first time that ion propulsion is being used as the primary propulsion
>system for a spacecraft traveling in deep space," he added. The 85-pound
>secondary payload, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
>Satellite (SEDSAT) satellite, was delivered to orbit following deployment
>of Deep Space 1.
> An objective of SEDSAT is to further space science and engineering
>education through hands-on experience. Other objectives include providing
>packet and repeater communication services to the amateur radio community,
>providing a public internet-accessible multispecteral Earth imaging system,
>and conducting experiments in attitude determination, stabilization,
>battery technology, and radiation-tolerant computer design.
> Delta launch vehicles have carried a variety of critical scientific
>payloads for NASA, the most recent include the Advanced Composition
>Explorer, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global
> The Deep Space 1 launch is a part of the Medium-Light Expendable Launch
>Vehicle Services (Med-Lite) contract with NASA. In December, a Delta II
>will launch NASA's Mars Orbiter spacecraft to be followed by five
>additional NASA missions in 1999 and two in 2000. Five options remain in
>the Med-Lite contract.
> The Delta II is a medium capacity rocket which is manufactured in
>Huntington Beach, Calif., with final assembly in Pueblo, Colo., and is
>powered by the RS-27A engine built by Boeing in Canoga Park, Calif. The
>launch team at Cape Canaveral Air Station handled launch coordination for
> Alliant Techsystems, Magna, Utah, builds the graphite epoxy motors for
>boost assist; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif., supplies the second-stage
>engine; Cordant Technologies, Elkton, Md., builds the upper-stage engine;
>and Allied Signal, Teterboro, N.J., provides the guidance and flight
>control system. SOURCE Boeing Company
From Jim Rose